Surprise

Reads: 65  | Likes: 2  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 3

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs


Little kids learn about trees

Submitted: December 09, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 09, 2017

A A A

A A A


Mbise brought a pleasant young woman to Henry’s door because she was too shy to come alone. She came from the same area up the mountain as Mbise, and was running a small, informal chekechea, kindergarten for kids that couldn’t otherwise go to one. She was untrained, but she had no work and loved kids, so it’s what she did. There were other chekechea, but some of the kids had difficulty walking, or parents couldn’t afford the fees or for other reasons that couldn’t quite be defined.  She wanted Henry to talk to the kids about trees.

He would talk to anyone about trees, and he supposed the people had become all too aware of the fact, but there were some who liked to coax him on the pretext, to then ask for financial or some other form of help. According to Mbise, it would impress the kids for an mzungu to talk to them and maybe give them a ride in the Landrover. Henry told the young woman that he would talk to the kids and he wrote the date in his diary. She drank slowly, savouring the ubiquitous soda Henry gave her, and chatted freely about the kids before she began her long trek back up the mountain.

There isn’t much you can talk to kindergarten kids about the environment, so Henry took some dry fibre from the trunk of a banana ‘tree’, an empty bottle, a bucket of potting mix, some sawdust, some marram (volcanic ash) and some tree seeds.

There were perhaps a dozen kids, and after their greetings, he asked four kids help him perform the story of The Little Red Hen. They were going to be the dog, the pig, the duck and the frog. Their part was to say, ‘I won’t’. Anyway it went off well, the kids all laughing at the actors. The kids then gathered around and Henry showed them how to make a plant pot using banana fibre.

Dry banana fibre is papery and easily stripped off the tree, it is just dry growing tissue, not bark. To make a plant pot, use strips of fibre four or five inches wide and just over a foot long. Make a cross with two pieces. Have ready also, a thin piece, about a foot long that is to be used like a length of string. Now then, place a soda bottle in the centre of the cross and bend the fibre up the side of the bottle. Where the bottle starts to narrow, tie the string around the fibre and bottle, bend the excess fibre above the string, back down the bottle or cut it off – bending is easier for kids. Slooowly remove the bottle and you have your pot. Gently fill it with soil and then it is quite sturdy and easy to handle.

The pot isn’t filled to the top, leave an inch or so unfilled. Make a little dent in the middle of the soil with a finger and place two seeds in the dent. Cover with less than half an inch of sawdust (to hold the moisture in) and place a few pebbles of marram on top to stop the sawdust washing off. All you have to do then is keep the soil moist and stand the pot in fifty percent shade. When the tree is six or eight inches tall it can be planted, pot and all.

Goodlove, a little boy with a deformed hand couldn’t quite manage the tying of his pot so it was a little loose, Henry gave him the demonstration one, and asked a little girl to help Goodlove to tie his own, reminding them about cooperation and the story. Each child was to take two pots home and the seeds were a variety of tree species, one was indigenous and the other exotic. Henry asked Goodlove if he could carry two pots, and was a bit embarrassed at the ‘of course’, realising he had no need to ask. Before leaving he took them all in one trip to Nkoaranga Hospital and back, on condition they sang all the way! They were happy to oblige. For Henry that was the fun part!

A little over a year later, Mbise told Henry that Goodlove’s Grevillea tree had been stolen and Goodlove was most upset about it! People will steal Grevillea because it’s a timber tree and has value. By now Goodlove was at primary school, so Henry said to Mbise to tell Goodlove’s parents that they would go up there the next day and plant a replacement. Henry had some Grevillea in large pots that he was growing especially for another project, so he conscripted one of them. He also, with Mbise’s help, loaded three big rocks into the back of the Landrover. The planting was done while Goodlove was at school and to finish the job, Henry and Mbise placed the rocks around the tree, so it would be difficult to dig it out. The boy would get a surprise to find a tree twice the size as one that had been stolen!

Henry has no idea who told the boy, but both Mbise and the boy’s parents promised they wouldn’t. But every time Henry drove up that road out of school time, Goodlove would be at the roadside waving and calling out! His way of showing his thanks.


© Copyright 2018 moa rider. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

Booksie 2018 Poetry Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by moa rider

Sojourn

Short Story / Romance

The Talisman

Short Story / Fantasy

White Light

Short Story / Science Fiction

Popular Tags